Top 5 Reasons Raising Country Kids is the Best

Growing up in the country was a big influence on who I am today. I truly believe that experience is everything and makes you who you are. I grew up on a small acreage that was fairly self sufficient and many of the things I do today I can trace the reason being that I grew up in the country. My sister has a new beau and invited his parents to my Dad’s 4th of July celebration. Since it’s a small town I already knew her boyfriend’s mom pretty well. She commented numerous times after seeing my Dad’s place how wonderful it must have been growing up there and she made the connection of why my sister and I are the way we are simply because growing up there!

  1. Play- I am not about scheduled play dates and structured activities for Scarlett. Those things can be good too but that is so much work and stress for ME as the parent and I am not about that! I believe in letting Scarlett whip a stick around and play with that. Watching her with it you can see she has a purpose for what she is doing, she has some story playing out in her mind and it is so fun to see and to imagine along with her! There is so much research backing free play. I recently read an amazing book titled, Simple Happy Parenting by Denaye Barahona. She has a Ph. D. in Child Development with a specialty in Family Wellness so she comes at this from an educated stand point. She made an excellent point that our education system is shifting from just memorizing facts and figures because let’s face it, the kids of today can look up anything in a matter of seconds. Instead, education is shifting to focus on the 4C’s, Critical Thinking, Collaboration, Communication and Creativity. This concept blew me away but made so much sense with the way our world is now. What better way to encourage these concepts then free play!

2. Caring for Others- When you have critters you have to care for them. It doesn’t matter how frigid the wind is, how blazing hot the sun is or if you had a horrible day. Your animals need to be fed and watered and YOU have to do it. Being a country kid you learn responsibility early because you have a life outside your own that depends on you and you have to care for your animals.

3. Life and Death- Even though we lovingly care for our animals life will come to an end. Death is a part of life. Scarlett had a kitten named Sandy that we hand fed because her mom suddenly passed away from an unknown cause. When I found Sandy my first instinct was to hide her before Scarlett could see her. Scarlett was about one and a half at the time. But instead I thought she needed to know what happened to her kitty cat and decided to use it as a teaching moment. Scarlett came over and enthusiastically called, “Kitty Cat!” like she always did to Sandy. When Sandy didn’t move I could see the confusion on Scarlett’s face and it was heart breaking to me. I explained to her that Sandy had passed and she is now in heaven with God. I know she doesn’t understand now but I believe in explaining things as they are because some day it will click in her mind. Another great aspect of living in the country is you get to see life coming into the world. Whether it be a kitten or Baby Buck Bucks or a new calf. There is something magical about babies, no matter what species they are! I know as a kid my parents NEVER sat down and had the ‘Birds and the Bees’ talk with me because I already knew, simply by being around the animals. I remember on more then one occasion watching the sheep or cats do their thing and announcing to everyone that we were going to have lambs or kittens! You simply learn the facts of life by watching nature.

Scarlett loving on Sandy.

4. Where Food Comes From- In such a modern world it is so easy to become disconnected from our food supply. You get the munchies, go to the store, grab what you’re in the mood for all packaged up nicely and there you go. But obviously there’s so much more to it. We have a garden for veggies and hopefully soon a small orchard for some fruit. One of my favorite evening activities is spending time in the garden with Scarlett to water the plants and pull weeds. It is such a peaceful and reflective time for me. She helps pull weeds too and harvests produce with me. She got her first fresh strawberries this spring and couldn’t get enough of them. It was such a wonderful moment seeing her excited and enjoying one of life’s simple pleasures. Along with produce we also have our own steer that we will be butchering this winter. About a month ago my Dad called me at 6am on a Sunday morning wondering if I could come over because they decided they were going to butcher chickens that day. I took over our old hen who hadn’t laid in a long time so we could butcher her as well. We went up to where they were butchering and there was already a pile of dead chickens laying there. It understandably upset Scarlett. I picked her up and explained that chickens lay yummy eggs for us but we also eat their meat as well. I didn’t want to really get into it but simply explain the facts to her. She spent the rest of the day running around chasing kittens so it didn’t seem to bother her after that. I think it was the initial shock that really threw her off. I had debated how to present this to her gently but due to circumstances out of my control the pile of dead chickens made the jump for me and I just explained things best I could and she seemed OK with that. We made chicken noodle soup that night, when I told her what it was she took a big bite of chicken, said “chicken”, and kept munching so either she didn’t make the connection or it didn’t bother her too much!

5. Hard Work- Living in the country is hard work. Anything you truly want in life is hard work and living in the country helps instill that work ethic in you. Hard work can suck, let’s be honest, BUT the gratification that comes from a completed task is worth it. Scarlett has been a doer since she was able to control her limbs. She is always with us no matter what we are doing. We firmly believe that she does what we do. Last summer she was one and a half and we were cleaning up a large tree that had to come down in the yard. She was right there with us picking up little baby branches and placing them in the tractor. Coby and I were so proud of her working right along with us. She amazes us with things that she is able to do and we certainly cheer her on for it. As kids we were expected to help our parents with things and I remember doing things that my parents didn’t think I would be able to, i.e. lifting a log into the wagon and them being amazed! I thrived on that high! I hope we can instill that in Scarlett as well to push herself and amaze even herself with what she can do.

Hard Working Baby Cleaning up Sticks

I loved growing up in the country and clearly enjoy country life still. Clearly kids growing up in town and the cities learn these lessons as well but I feel learning them in the country helps instill these lessons early in life. I may be romanticizing it, but I think back to my childhood with such fondness and my love for nature and clearly can trace that back to living a simple, wonderful life in the country and hope Scarlett will too.

Garden Shed Foundation

I took all of last week off work. All of the Veteran’s I serve have been asking me where I went and if I had a great time. Well, it was not a sit by the pool and sip on drinks kind of vacation. I had a to-do list about as long as my arm! I got the vast majority of it done, at least the back breaking part of it anyway.

My main goal during this “Workcation” was pour the cement foundation for my garden shed. We have an adorable 10′ x 10′ building on our property that the previous owners used as their milk house when they had a dairy cow, so precious! Since we moved in I have been using it to store random yard/garden supplies. For this new purpose it sits in a rather random spot of the property. We are very much about keeping old buildings that have so much charm and giving them a new purpose that suits our needs.

Getting Started

I honestly didn’t think this was going to be much of a project. I poured cement to fill in a patch of our sidewalk (Read that article here: https://pearlsponiesandpacifiers.com/2020/03/24/pouring-a-sidewalk-patch/ ) and that went really well so I thought this was going be just as simple. My Dad came out Wednesday to help me with the forms. We are on a bit of a hill but I didn’t realize how much our property slopes until I was out there with a level!

I bought out the lumberyard of 2″ x 6″ boards to use for the forms. We placed one along the fence which is what I was using as a guide to where the building would go. I dug it out to make the 2″ x 6″ even with the ground on the high side, remember, our property slopes quite a bit. From there we started pounding in stakes along the board and screwed the 2″ x 6″ to those, pounding in the stakes until the level read even. We basically repeated this process on all sides until the whole thing was even. There was quite a bit of back and forth until ALL sides were level. Please note that while completing this step ensure that you do NOT use the forms to help brace yourself as you stand up. I learned that one the hard way and we may have had to do some more leveling.

Digging to fit the first form.

The Really Hard Part

I don’t know if it was the fact that the temperature was pushing 90 degrees or if I just wasn’t mentally prepped for this step to take all day long but after the first step I thought we were pretty much home free, WRONG! Because our property has such a slope I had to go back to the lumberyard and get additional 2″ x 6″ to place under the first ones to totally fill in the forms. No big deal, I got those put in and then started placing waler brackets. For ours we just used a 1″ x 2″ cut in 2’ish sections and screwed them into the stakes at an angle with another stake behind them to ensure they didn’t move. These help brace the forms against the weight of the wet cement.

The walers on the tall side of the forms where they were needed most.

Again, that part wasn’t so bad either, the next step was prepping the ground inside of the form. Granted, I think the reason this step was extra difficult is because our property slopes so much but dang was it difficult! I used the flat-edged shovel to skim off the dirt until it was a level 4″. My Dad also suggested that we do a rat footing. Bascially, it’s adding extra cement down along the inner side of the foundation. I dug down about a shovels width in from the form and down an extra 4″. This helps so rain water doesn’t run under the building. I used the soil that I removed for the rat footing and to even the low sides of the inside of the form. We even had to bring in some outside dirt to make it even. After the soil was put in place I used the metal tamper to pack down the dirt so it was ready for cement. My Dad also wanted me to brace the forms with dirt so they would have more support against the wet cement but I’ll be honest, by this point of the day I was done and calling it good!

Pouring Cement

I scheduled the cement truck for Friday morning, it was quite exciting having a whole truck come. I had never had a big enough job to warrant a whole truck! The truck couldn’t quite reach the forms so we had to use the bucket on the tractor to haul the cement from the truck to the forms. Coby would pour the cement into the form and I then used a concrete come-along tool to rake the cement into the corners and tamp it down to get out any air bubbles.

Once we got the form filled in it was time to screed. We used a 2″ x 4″ for this. With a person on either side of the form they would drag the board pushing the bulk of the cement out of the way. Then they would take it back to the starting point and quickly see-saw it back and forth to level the cement. If cracks were needing to be filled in I would scoop a shovel full of cement in the area and they would do the process over again until it was nice and smooth.

Once this rough leveling was done my Dad showed me how to use the magnesium float and really smooth out the floor. Coby used the edging trowel to put a smooth edge on the cement so there aren’t any ridges. My Dad then used the broom to put a slight texture to the floor. He loves to add swirls to the cement instead of a straight line, I let him have free range and go for it! We then had to add the ever popular hand prints and Dad insisted we put the date in it as well, if only I could write in a straight line!

Final Thoughts

This step of the project was definitely more then I bargained for BUT it is done and done well. It really gave shape to my garden and I can’t wait to move the building and keep adding raised beds to make it my dream garden!

View of the foundation from the low side of the hill that needed a LOT of cement to even out with the high side of the hill.

Veggie Garden Design and Construction

I love a prolific, organized garden, who doesn’t?! I want a garden that is pleasing to the palatte as well as to the eye. Now that we have our own place my goal this summer was to start my dream garden. I have always wanted raised beds as they are beautiful and offer numerous planting benefits, i.e. longer growing season and complete control over the soil used.

This post is just covering the first phase of my garden plan. My total garden is going to be 61’1″ x 43’7″ and it just wasn’t feasible in both time and money to do that all at once.

Plan Before You Plant

The first step was measuring the space where I wanted the garden to go, and re-measuring it just to make sure. After that I broke out my architects scale and started designing. For me designing and drawing is relaxing, it’s my way of dreaming on paper. I have recently been obsessed with the YouTube channel called, “Garden Answer.” Laura is an extremely knowledgeable gardener who has given me a lot of inspiration and the confidence to try something new in my garden. I grew up with a vegetable garden being a plot of tilled up soil with rows and rows of veggies in it. There is nothing wrong with that but I wanted mine to have an almost architectural beauty to it as well. Laura made me realize I can have both, practical and eye catching. I have always heard of the idea of “rooms” in a garden but again, didn’t think that was for a vegetable garden but Laura made me realize, “Why not?”

My extravagant garden plan in my new “Plans” notebook with all of my current project ideas!

I really examined what we were wanting out of our garden. We would love to start canning and be able to have enough home-grown food that we can “grocery” shop from our own pantry. Therefore, we have to have a lot of garden space and we got it!

The design for my garden is very symmetrical, I am using the garden shed as the main focal point to break up the two main areas in the garden. After that I decided 4′ x 8′ beds are what I want for the bulk of my beds but didn’t want them just lined up in rows. I decided that along the center axis, aligned with the garden shed, I would do smaller, 3′ x 3′ beds for smaller crops and to help break up the area and really draw you into the garden from the main entry.

Breaking Ground

After the hours I spent designing and tweaking the plan it was time to break ground! My Dad has a 2 bottom plow that he tries to use any opportunity he gets. I had him come over and he and Coby plowed under the entire area where I was going to put the garden. We then tilled and tilled and tilled the area to break up the large clumps.

Building the Beds

It was time to make those beautiful raised beds. My research suggested using either Redwood or Cedar for beds due to their durability when exposed to the weather. In my area Redwood hasn’t been available for years so I went with Cedar. There were cheaper options of course but that included treated lumber which is something I wan’t comfortable with seeings how I am growing food in these. One lumberyard I called suggested that some people go with the treated lumber and then line it before putting the soil down to create a barrier.

I got my lumber and soil and started making six of the 3′ x 3′ beds. I mitered the corners because again, I wanted it to be pretty, and that’s what Laura did too! My Dad warned me that they would pull apart easier that way but I didn’t care. After I made these beds Laura did a follow up video on her channel stating that she would not do mitered edges again because of the aforementioned problem so, lesson learned, I won’t do it to the rest. Once I had all of the pieces cut to size I took them to the barn to screw together. Our barn is the only cemented floor we have and I wanted to make sure that they were flush. I screwed all of the beds together and then sanded the edges as they did get a little rough and splintery while cutting.

Putting Everything in the Garden

The next step was measuring the placement of everything in the garden. I measured the outsides and the center. I used fiberglass electric fence poles to mark these points. I then ran a string line in between the poles to measure from. Once I was sure it was centered I started placing the beds down where they should go based on my plans. I used a large rake to even out the soil where I was placing them to ensure that it was flat.

Scarlett helped me plant the finished beds. We may have a few extra Jack be Little pumpkins because of her assistance but I’m not mad. It’s so fun having her help and learn!

There is still a long way to go until my dream garden is complete but the first phase is done and let’s be honest, getting started is always the hardest part!

Building Fence

Thankfully when we moved to this property in the December a little over a year ago it hadn’t turned bitter cold yet and the ground was not froze. My husband and I constructed a make shift holding pen for the horses until we could build proper fence when the weather turned.

There’s something oddly peaceful about looking at a pretty fence!

The previous owners hadn’t had any livestock for years which meant that all of the fence around the property had to come out and be rebuilt. My husband was a farm hand growing up so he is quite a good fence ripper outer! EVERY Saturday last summer was devoted to fencing. I would take our daughter to my mom’s in the morning and linger there a little longer then I should knowing that Coby was starting fence work while I was there. Once I got back it was time to put up some fence. We would complete a single line of fencing each day. Now, some might envision a couple arguing with each other and bickering incessantly while building fence but oddly Coby and I seem to be at our best as a couple under usually trying times so it was actually fun.

Some people feel close to God when they are sitting in a church pew. I felt alive and blessed working on our fence. Maybe it’s because it took us four years to find our acreage but God blessed us with a piece of his earth that he created and entrusted it in our care, that honestly blows my mind. I’m not saying it wasn’t hard work and was exhausting but in the same sense it was exhilarating. We have looked back on it and both felt a sense that someone was there with us. For me it was surprisingly a spiritual task.

Happy boys enjoying their new pasture!

The Steps to Building a Fence

Coby did an insane amount of research into building fence. He watched YouTube videos from the pros because we were going to do this once, and do it right!

  1. Set the corner posts. We just followed the existing fence line so we would take out the old corner posts, use the fence post digger attachment on the tractor to clean out the hole and throw the new creosote post in there. We would use a level to ensure it was straight on all sides before filling the hole in.
    • Creosote is a tar like substance that is used to coat fence posts and soaks into the post leaving it a very dark brown/black color. Creosote helps slow the wood post from rotting and can also deter harmful insects from damaging the posts. Definitely wear gloves and full sleeves when working with these posts. Coby would develop a slight rash whenever the posts made contact with his skin and it would burn for a few hours afterward.
  2. The next step was to place the brace posts on either side of the corner posts. We placed these a metal brace post length away from the corner post.
  3. We used 9 Gage Wire and looped it around the corner post and the brace post at a diagonal, attaching it together with a Wire Tightener. For this project we did have to buy quite a few specific tools but we wanted to ensure this fence was going to withstand the test of time, and my mom’s fence stretching horse.
  4. The last step in bracing the posts was to use a metal brace in-between the posts. I grew up seeing these metal posts placed diagonally between the posts but my Dad said to put them horizontally because the diagonal would start to lift the post where the diagonal was lowest to the ground.
  5. We would then run our bottom line of barbed wire to use as a guide for the metal “T”-Posts. We would wind the barb wire around the wood posts, put fencing staples in it and then put a metal rod through the spool of barbed wire and we would walk it to the other post. Once there we gave ourselves about 3′ extra to work with and cut the wire.
  6. Coby bought a Come-Along Tool or winch that we hooked to the hitch of his pickup. Coby also got an adapter to be used with the winch that can hold the barbed wire. We then tightened the wire and would wrap it around the post and attach it with fencing staples.
  7. The next step was placing the “T”-Posts. We placed ours every 8′ along the outside of the fence. We loaded them in the tractor bucket and Coby would drive the tractor slowly alongside me and I would throw them out at estimated 8′ intervals. I would then measure 8′ and pound the post in with a post pounder with the flat part of the “T”-Post facing inward so electric fencing insulators could be attached later.
  8. Once these were all in we started running the rest of the barbed wire strands. We chose to do 5 strands. My Dad ran 6 because when he built his fence we had sheep and since they’re smaller he wanted smaller openings between the strands. We only intend on having horses and steers so we decided we could make them slightly farther apart. We placed our barbed wire 2″ down from the top, then 12″, 22″, 32″ and 42″ on the 4′ post.
  9. We would run the bottom 3 strands and would then have to adhere them to the post using fence clips. Any more strands then this and they started getting caught in one another while on the ground before we attached them to the post. We would leap frog each other, each doing the next post in line and would attach the wire. We used both regular pliers and fencing pliers for this, both worked but the rounded head of the fencing pliers made it easier for me.

We divided our pasture area into three fairly equal parts so we can rotate the critters to give the grass a chance to catch up growing. We placed gates in-between the pastures to make it easier to move livestock and get the tractor in and out for maintenance. There’s nothing worse then needing to get into a pasture with the tractor and having to worry about the critters running out!

When we had an over tiring day I would make Coby look at the horses and remind him of how happy they are going to be in that beautiful pasture. I don’t think he quite shared my enthusiasm on that but as he always tells me, “If it makes you smile, I’ll do it.”

Finally the day came to let the boys into the completed pasture. I honestly think I was more excited then they were. We each took a horse and walked the perimeter of the fence so they knew where it was and then we let them go. They were so excited to have beautiful green grass they didn’t even do their typical run around like idiots when they get someplace new. They just dropped their heads and started munching, it was a wonderful site!

It was hard work and honestly I’m exhausted even reminiscing to that time but we have gotten numerous comments from people about how nice our fence is. Coby says if we ever have to do it again we will hire it out but we both puff up with pride whenever someone comments on our fence!

For this section we just had to put up the new gate and replace the post next to Coby. Once we make some other changes to the property this will be replaced with vinyl fencing!

DIY Chicken Tractor

How I upcycled vintage screen doors into a cute and functional chicken tractor.

Where we used to live was surrounded by cornfields and was close to the river, a mecca for wild critters that liked to feast on chickens. I decided I needed a chicken tractor but didn’t really want to spend the money on a ready made one or a bunch of lumber to make my own more “traditional” chicken tractor. The place we rented at that time has had people in and out of there, many of whom left collectables behind. There was a set of gorgeous vintage, screen doors. I am not sure what they went to as the house was not set up for something like those but I was going to put them to use!

I love that this chicken tractor gets the girls used to being outside in a safe, and easy to catch environment before I let them free range.

Designing and building

Chicken tractors in their most rudimental form is just a triangle and seeings how we don’t have many girls I didn’t need a big space. I was simply going to make a triangle out of the screen doors connecting them at the bottom with some lumber I had on hand.

First and foremost I did have to do some minor repairs, the bottom of one of the doors was rotten so I removed that piece and used some scrap lumber and pieced it together, it isn’t pretty but it works and is sturdy so the girls are safe. I then spray painted the wood white to protect it and make it pretty! As you can see it’s been a few years since I constructed this and need to do it again, maybe with roll on paint this time.

Here’s the corner I patched together with some spare wood lyng around.

I bought a roll of chicken wire that fit perfectly on my doors and rolled it out on the inside of the door and attached it with a staple gun.

It was then time to put it together! To connect the top of the doors at the peak I just butted them together and had Coby screw them together, he was my driller for this project as I was wearing a cute baby at the time! To connect the bottom of the doors to the wood brace posts I just used the hinges that were still attached to the doors! I did have to move the hinges to the end of the board and put them on the other side but they worked great!

Now that the frame was built I finished enclosing the space with the chicken wire by rolling the wire on the end triangle pieces, stapling with the staple gun and cut the excess with wire cutters. This did leave some sharp edges exposed but I have not had any problem.

The final step was adding handles to the ends, I just found some cheap, yet sturdy handles at the hardware store and attached them to either end using the hardware that came with it.

It may not be perfect but it’s sturdy.

Final Tips

I had originally intended on adding wheels but decided against it as it would raise the tractor too high and I was afraid smaller/younger chickens would escape. It is a little heavy but once you get it in the general area it is easy to move one end at a time a few feet over to fresh grass.

The other night I had my “teenage” sized Buck Bucks in the tractor a little later then normal and they escaped! I think they were nesting down for the night and realized that they could slip out the side because the brace board raises the entire piece 2″. I had them in it yesterday and there were no escapees so I think we are OK but something to think about.

I also intend on adding some sort of shading element. I had a tarp strapped over one end but the puppy dismantled that! I have thought of using leftover corrugated metal but am afraid they would get too hot. I want it to provide shade/shelter from rain but also let a breeze go through easily so I am still working on that. For now I don’t put them out if it is going to rain and keep them between two trees that provide shade both in the morning and afternoon.

It was fun using stuff I found around the place, not only does it work well but it gives an ordinary, functional object some fun whimsy, plus, it’s cost effective!

Building a Wood Gate

We moved to our new homestead on a snowy day a year and a half ago during a winter that my Dad referred to as “This is what I remember winter’s being like when I was a kid.” i.e. I think he was going for that, “We had it so bad we had to walk up hill both ways to get to school” kind of vibe! So once we got everything here we hunkered down and just tried to make it until spring!

Once the weather turned last year we focused on fencing ALL SUMMER LONG (a post on how we did our fencing to come soon!) Now we are looking into some smaller projects that just make our lives easier. The owners that lived here previously used the hog shed for of course, hogs! We are using it as a barn for the horses and chickens and therefore need to do some adjustments to make it more suitable for us. The main thing I wanted to change was getting from inside the barn to the pasture. The previous owners had a very heavy, large piece of wood that slid into slats blocking the doorway in-between the horses shelter and the rest of the barn where we store feed and hay. This large and heavy piece of wood was great for hogs but very difficult for me to give the boys their feed each night. It was easiest for me to go outside and access their pasture via the outside gate. This meant I had to leave Scarlett in the barn by herself and a 2 year old in the barn without visibility made me nervous! I couldn’t wait to make a swinging gate for this doorway!

This board doesn’t look like much but it is a beast!

Like I have mentioned before, my Dad has done construction for longer then I have been alive so I know the basics but I have always had him there to help guide me through projects so this was the first I have really done on my own from start to finish.

The first step I did was measure. I measured about 20 times and then cut once because I tend to get excited and get ahead of myself and have been known to cut things without accurately measuring. I liked the height of the heavy board they had because it blocked the giraffe necked horses from reaching around the corner and grabbing hay that was stacked there for winter. I did want to leave some room on the bottom for clearance of apples that accumulate from the horses during the winter because it was so dang cold that first winter there was no way we were going to get them cleaned out regularly. In total the height of the gate was mounted at 48″ tall but the gate itself was only 44″ in height, leaving a 4″ gap at the bottom for the apples.

I locked the boys out of the barn while working on the inside gate. They were quite intrigued as to what I was doing with their house!

I used 2″ x 6″ lumber. The lumberyard I got it from cut it to length for me which was 44″. I had to cut the width of the final piece so it would fit in the opening. I used a battery operated circular saw for all of the cutting I did. Next I lined up the pieces on saw horses and worked on the brace pieces. I wanted a classic and simple “Z” pattern. I again measured the top and bottom pieces very carefully and cut the boards to length. I screwed these in place using deck screws, that is what my local hardware store suggested for this project. For the diagonal piece of the “Z” I just laid a board across the gate at the angle I wanted and marked where they met the top and bottom brace pieces. I then used my square to take that measurement across the width of the board so I would have an accurate guide to follow and cut those as well. Once I cut it I screwed this into place.

I used one of the other boards as a straight edge to draw a line to follow as a guide to cut the length of the board.

The next step was to take out the slats that held the heavy board into place, they were nailed to the 2″ x 4″ stud that outlined the doorway so it took a little elbow grease and a few choice words and those were out!

I then went onto installing the hardware for the gate, starting with the hinges. I was nervous about this step because I didn’t want to mess anything up. I got large hinges because this isn’t a lightweight gate! I screwed the hinges to the gate and then found various items to put under the gate to hold it in place 4″ above the floor to give me the clearance for any excrement that would accumulate from the horses. I then screwed the other side of the hinges to the 2″ x 4″ stud.

I just started attaching screws at random to get it in place and then filled in the holes.

The next step was attaching the latch, I found a heavy duty latch at Home Depot, one that the horses could not manipulate with their mouths because they can be stinkers like that. I attached the latch to the gate using the accompanying hardware and then slid the latch out like I was locking the gate and fitted the accompanying latch piece and screwed it into place to the stud.

Attaching the latch. I had to use a screwdriver, my drill was too big to fit against the latch itself.

I ensured that my gate would swing into where the horses are because horses can be stinkers and lean on gates, especially my mom’s horse that lives with us, he is a total nuisance and loves this trick. To help with this I made a simple ‘stop’ with the piece of 2″ x 6″ I shaved off for the gate itself. I simply latched the gate into place where it would stop naturally and screwed this extra piece of wood to the stud behind it to offer more protection from naughty ponies leaning against the gate.

My handy dandy “Gate Stop.”

This simple project took a few hours one rainy Sunday afternoon, including beer breaks to let the battery charge for my power tools and it has made doing chores so much easier and safer because I don’t have to leave Scarlett in the barn for very long if she chooses not to come into the pasture to help me. Even Coby and my mom have commented how nice it is to simply walk through the gate and not have to traipse around outside and open the outside gate.

Isn’t that the most beautiful thing you have ever seen?!

I hope this gives you some encouragement to tackle a project that will make your life easier as well. Please let me know what DIY projects you are wanting to tackle in the comments and we can offer each other motivation!

Adding to Our Farm

Even though it is such an odd time in the world right now it’s spring and that means new critters! We have had it in the works to add to our menagerie for quite some time and it just so happens that COVID-19 happened at the same time making it all the more interesting!

A New Critter Every Day

We were video chatting with my Dad and his girlfriend the other day and I was telling them our schedule this week and for three days in a row my sentence started, “This critter is coming on…” His girlfriend laughed and commented that Scarlett is going to think she gets a new critter every day!

Saturday

We started our additions Saturday when our new (fairly large) calf arrived, the farmer was gracious enough to trailer him to the house for us. We like to get them shortly after they are weaned from their mother but due to the odd circumstances this year he was about 750 pounds, I’d call him about “teenage” size! From finalizing the date and him arriving to our pasture was about 24 hours! It wasn’t a big deal to accommodate him except, I didn’t have any moo cow feed! We luckily have a Co-op about half an hour away that mixes feed and I was able to order feed from them and get it with minimal human contact for safety purposes due to COVID-19.

Sunday

Coby and I had this wonderful, perfect childhood vision of gifting Scarlett a puppy for Easter. Our daycare provider’s dog had puppies and we knew we wanted to get one and we thought the Easter bunny bringing the puppy would be perfect. Well… COVID-19 put a ca-bosh to that! Coby drives a semi and was on the East Coast when the virus first started running rampant so we decided that he would stay on the road until things calmed down so he wouldn’t potentially bring something home to Scarlett. Because of his absence on Easter I didn’t want to bring the puppy home and him miss it so we held off until our daycare provider mentioned she was worried the puppy was getting too attached to her so, we got a puppy on Sunday. Everyone, meet Max!

Tuesday

Due to a minor miscommunication my Dad thought our “Baby Buck Bucks” aka chicks were coming on Monday but they actually arrived on Tuesday via mail! My Dad places a large order of chicks every year so I just add a few to his order. He and my niece brought them by Tuesday morning. They ship in a sturdy cardboard container with plenty of air holes. It’s quite the site, and the noisy chirps, to witness! Scarlett thought it was great fun when I opened the box and showed her what was inside. She had to love on them right away!

The hardest part for me is adapting to a puppy. I have never had a puppy, only older dogs and am trying to learn quickly how to best work with him and teach him. Luckily he seems to be very well behaved but we have to work on the potty training and learning that chickens are not for his personal entertainment! The second biggest conundrum of getting critters at this time is not being able to go to the store to get supplies. We are choosing to have very little contact with people for Scarlett’s safety so I have to find things that will ship here via online ordering. Thank goodness for Chewy.com and Amazon. All employees involved in shipping goods at this time deserve a standing ovation and my sincerest gratitude, Thank You!

I will certainly keep you up to date on how our new animal additions are going, so far, so good!

Top 15 Side Effects of COVID-19

Tomorrow the Supervisors for my my full time job meet to decide whether we will go back to the office next week or continue to work from home and I have a feeling we’re going to be heading back to the office. I am having some extreme emotions and am deeply saddened by this. I have enjoyed being home with Scarlett more then I ever imagined I would. I won’t lie saying that it has not been trying for both of us to be around each other constantly but it was a blessing I was given to be with her everyday during a time she grew so much. As our time working from home draws to a close I wanted to recap some of the unexpected side effects we as a family experienced due to COVID-19:

15. The Lack of Me Time- When I’m at the office I usually have some time throughout the day that it’s just me and I’m not surrounded by a cute little person ALL DAY LONG!

14. Barrage of Home Improvements- I want to knock down every wall and add a conservatory and add flower beds everywhere outside!

13. Appreciate the Small Things- Like going to the convenience store for some munchies you are craving.

12. I literally thought my car was broke- I hadn’t driven it in so long I thought it sounded funny!

11. I need more lotion- My hands are so dry from washing them constantly.

10. Potty Training- Scarlett decided quarantine was the time to potty train which is a great idea but be warned, potty training is the devil.

9. Creative Cooking- I now can whip up a random meal fast in-between phone calls for work.

8. My love for living in the country multiplied- I feel for people who live in cities and can’t get their children outside to play.

Thank goodness for living in the Country and being able to let Scarlett get out and explore.

7. I cried when I heard a semi down the road- My husband is an over the road truck driver and when everything went crazy we decided to have him stay out so he didn’t bring anything home to Scarlett. He ended up being gone for two months before we saw him again. To say we missed him is an understatement.

Scarlett and I bedazzled the window when Coby finally got to come home. Please pay no attention to my dirty window!!

6. I actually missed people- People can drive me nuts but when I saw my neighbors out for a walk I hoped they would turn down our road and we could chat but they sadly went the other direction.

5. I got tech savvy- I learned how to do online grocery order and pick up, this is sadly huge for me!

4. Developed Horrible Habits- Scarlett now thinks we need to watch a movie every day during lunch, oops.

3. Extreme Paranoia- I was terrified to have my parents drop off Scarlett’s Easter goodies because I was afraid they might have goobers on them or the electrical lineman that was constantly petting our dog and then have Scarlett pet him for fear of transferring something to her.

2. This one sums up Quarantine- Scarlett cried when we (briefly) ran out of chocolate! Apparently my family deals with quarantine by bringing us a LOT of chocolate!

I swear, we never have this much junk food in the house, it’s a quarantine thing!
  1. Not to be cliche but- How truly blessed I am. We live in an amazing Country, we have plenty of food and clean water. I have a family who is loving and supportive through it all and that is everything.

We are living a definitive moment in history and I hope this list helps you reflect on your time in quarantine, both the good and the bad. May we learn from it and cherish the good times that it brought.

Pouring a Sidewalk Patch

Shortly before we bought the house the previous owners had to do some unexpected septic repair which entailed removing an eight foot section of the sidewalk. The buying and purchasing of this property was in the fall/winter months so replacing the sidewalk was not a top priority on anyone’s list at the time. The previous owners had built a sturdy walkway out of wood to make due for the time being. While this worked temporarily I did not want to have a slippery wooden walkway with a toddler for this upcoming winter, so I enlisted my Dad’s help to ensure that it would be fixed and safe for this upcoming winter!

What we Started With.

Getting Started

I had a basic idea of how to pour concrete but was pretty sure there had to be some background info that I did not know. My Dad has done construction since before I was alive and now works as the maintenance director for a local school so he has a great background with things of this nature, very handy!

Gather all of your tools:

shovel, wooden 2 x 4’s cut to the length you need- my local hardware store cut it to length for me, wooden ground stakes, small nails, hammer, garden hoe, wheelbarrow, hose and water source, trowel, edger, a cement broom and an extra 2 x 4 to skim the top, cement-calculate correctly to ensure you have enough, I used the website: https://www.concretenetwork.com/concrete/howmuch/calculator.htm to determine how much cement to get. I’m sure your hardware store will be happy to help as long as you have the measurements of the area you are going to be cementing.

Here’s the Steps:

  • Dig the ground to create a good base for concrete, 4″ in the center and 5″ around the edge.
  • Figure out the “mold” using 2 x 4’s remembering that the cement is going to fill those entire forms which will result in the final shape
  • Stake the 2 x 4’s into place and nail the 2 x 4 to the stake ensuring stability when you pour in the cement
  • Mix the cement. I assumed there was a certain ratio of cement to water but we literally just dumped the concrete bag into the wheelbarrow, made a hole in the center using the hoe, similar to adding liquid to cake batter and added a fair amount of water and mixed. The dry cement mixture needed more water then I would have guessed initially and quickly soaked it up.
  • Mix well ensuring there are no dry spots in the mixture
  • dump cement inside your 2 x 4 form
  • Once you fill in the form use the extra 2 x 4 to level off the cement inside the form using a seesaw back and forth motion. There may be sections that are too low, just shovel in extra cement and re-do that section with the 2 x 4. I did notice that tapping this extra cement down in these areas with the shovel helped to settle the cement to ensure every crack and crevice was filled. Before doing this step the cement was really rocky on top and uneven which made me nervous. This step helped “push” those rocks down and made the surface smooth.
  • After everything was smoothed my Dad took the magnesium trowel and started to fine tune the surface of the cement. He said you can use a metal trowel as well but he personally prefers a magnesium trowel as he feels it gets the moisture in the cement to rise better and drive the rocks down.
  • He then handed it off to me and it was surprisingly easy. Use the very edge of the trowel held at a 30-45 degree angle and smooth the surface. This will bring the “butter” to the top. The butter is the liquid, it was surprising to me how much moisture came to the surface.
  • He kept telling me to take my time and I was, but apparently started to take too much time. He pointed out that once the shine on the surface dulls and you can start to see the texture of the cement it’s starting to dry.
  • He then used the edger to run it along the side of the cement to give it a nice rounded edge.
  • The last step in pouring the cement was to take the cement broom and add a little more texture. My Dad wanted to add swirly designs in it with the broom but the rest of our sidewalk is pretty basic so he literally just swept it forward in a straight line.
  • Ok, so maybe one more step, we had to add Scarlett’s handprint into the cement! Since I was rather slow at the troweling step it was a little more difficult to do this step due to the cement hardening.

Final Touches

My Dad said I could do this last bit of the process after 24 hours but we honestly didn’t have time until two weeks after pouring the cement. I took a claw hammer and busted the cement that had overflowed the edges of the 2 x 4’s. I picked these up and disposed of them. I then used the hammer to easily pull up the 2 x 4’s and stakes from the ground. I thought this was going to be difficult and that the cement would adhere to the wood but it didn’t at all. I grabbed a shovel and leveled the dirt that we had dug out for the base to the new sidewalk. After that Scarlett and I spread grass seed around the area by hand.

I am so pleased with the sidewalk and am almost excited for winter to get here to test it out! I hope this makes the task of pouring a sidewalk a little less daunting. I was certainly surprised by how much I learned and how comfortable I became with the process, besides taking too much time perfecting the surface, cement was pretty forgiving to work with if you plan everything out well! It isn’t perfect by any means, blending it to the existing sidewalk works well but you can definitely see it but I am still so happy with myself for taking on this surprisingly easy DIY project! Good luck and I hope you are just as pleased with your project, I am sure it will be amazing!

Moving An Acreage and Not Losing Your Mind

I was petrified of moving, I had never moved an entire house before and just the thought of it stirred up an irrational fear in me. When Coby and I moved in together all I had to move was my bedroom in my parents house, not too crazy. Now, ten years later we were moving an entire house, horses, chickens, equipment to sustain an acreage and an adorable 11 month old baby and all of her paraphernalia as well. I was panicked!

Packing Like a Pro

I like to fancy myself somewhat of a minimalist, I had always told Coby that every five years we should pretend we’re moving and get rid of junk. Well, pretending to move and actually moving I found out are two very different things. It really made me examine why I was keeping stuff and do some intense Marie Kondo’ing and get rid of items I was holding onto for illegitimate reasons.

We started packing early and in each room we had everything completely boxed, labeled and put in a pile so once we had family and friends show up we made a human chain and started passing the boxes! I know we have all been in the situation where we have showed up to help someone move and all of their stuff is arranged like it’s any other day, NOO! This makes it miserable for everyone not to mention unorganized for the mover because people just start throwing things in boxes, there’s no rhyme or reason as to where it goes. We were adamant that we would be prepared for our helpers.

Enjoying our last breakfast in the house in what was left of the living room.

Luckily, my work office had just moved buildings about six months prior. Our county had bought a different building in town and our small building consisting of four offices and the food pantry were switching locations. One of the ladies has moved numerous times and had the genius idea of color coding everything. Each office had it’s own dedicated color of duct tape that they sealed their boxes with. It worked like a charm! Every piece of equipment in my office was bedazzled with a piece of red duct tape. At our new building we labeled each door in the corresponding color. The movers were great and hopefully appreciated our resourcefulness.

I decided to try this approach in our move as well, I color coded and labeled everything to a ridiculous degree and hung a coordinating sign in each room as well. I may have gotten a little ribbing from our help about not knowing which room was the living room BUT I was only asked where something went maybe five times the whole day!

Moving Day for the House

We do have a pick up and many of our friends and family do as well but that still equals a lot of trips. While there can be some draw backs to having an over the road truck driver for a husband there are some pretty good points to it as well. Coby borrowed a dry van trailer (the most common enclosed trailer you see driving down the highway) from the company he hauls for and we were able to get the entire house packed in the trailer in 2.5 hours!

Our own “Moving” truck!

Moving Everything Else

I have to admit that Coby did a lot of the outside stuff on his own as time permitted. The manager of the acreage we had rented from told us to take as much time as we needed to get stuff out, we moved the 1st of December and our contract technically ended on the 18th so we were focused to have everything done by then. Coby borrowed my Dad’s dump trailer and moved the entire shed in one trip, including the chickens in their little chicken house! We borrowed a livestock trailer from our good family friends to move the boys, our horses. This was sadly my greatest source of stress. I bought my horse Chocolate when I was in the fifth grade, he was my baby before I had a baby. He doesn’t like the trailer, not sure why but he can be an idiot when it comes to trailering. A few days after we had moved the house and built a makeshift holding pen we picked up the trailer and went to the local pub and grub for lunch before getting the boys and Coby bought me a beer so I would calm down! It must have worked because Chocolate loaded like a dream! We put hay in the trailer so my mom’s horse practically ran in there. Chocolate took a few steps in and slowly backed out but was still calm. Within ten minutes he was loaded and we took off. I was so worried he would be thrashing around in there but when we got to the new house he almost looked bummed that he had to get out. I wanted to make it a very positive experience and let him leisurely walk out and start munching on the little slivers of grass. We say that this place must be meant to be due to him traveling so well!

Great Move = Great Beginnings

Keep moving fun, it’s the start of a great adventure!

Our moving day was actually great, it was fun with our family and close friends helping us start our life in our forever home. We would take turns watching Scarlett as we needed a break and tried to make it fun for her so she wasn’t upset with the change, she didn’t seem to care at all. The only problems we had is that we are missing a weight for the weight machine, not sure how that happened. Also, my Grandma had made large, framed family trees for her and my Grandpa and the glass on my Grandpa’s broke. This was actually a blessing because it made me realize how faded the names were as grandma had wrote them in pencil so I am going to trace over her handwriting with an archival quality pen. All together, including lunch that my mom supplied in crock pots our move took 9 hours tops, it was fantastic, I hope yours goes just as smooth!